Trump lifts all sanctions against Turkey
Jim Jeffrey, the US envoy for Syria and the coalition against ISIS, says the US believes that Turkish-supported opposition (TSO) forces in Syria have committed war crimes.
“We’ve seen several incidents which we consider war crimes,” Jeffrey told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The US envoy told the committee that “we haven’t seen any widespread ethnic cleansing in that area since the Turks have come in.” He added, “many people fled because they’re very concerned about these Turkish supported Syrian opposition forces, as are we.”
Jeffrey told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday that “Turkish-supported Syrian opposition forces who are under general Turkish command in at least one instance did carry out a war crime and we have reached out to Turkey to demand an explanation.”
Earlier today in the hearing, Jeffrey described the TSO as “very very dangerous and, in some cases, extremist.”
Some background: The recent withdrawal of US troops from Syria signaled what many called a betrayal of their Kurdish allies.
The US was not included in the Syria deal reached by Russia and Turkey yesterday. The deal made it clear that Turkey and Russia are not interested in including the US in plans regarding Syria's future.
President Trump said he'll make a statement about Syria at 11 a.m. ET today.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday met in the southern Russian resort city of Sochi and unveiled a 10-point memorandum about Syria.
Remember: The US was not included in the negotiation. The deal made it clear that Turkey and Russia are not interested in including the US in plans regarding Syria's future.
Furthermore, after the recent withdrawal of US troops from the area signaled what many called a betrayal of their Kurdish allies, it appears Russia will be the Kurds' new powerful protector in the area.
Iraq did not give permission for US forces withdrawing from Syria to stay in Iraq, according to a statement released today from Iraq's Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi.
"The government has stated that it has not given permission to US forces that have withdrawn from Syria to remain in Iraqi territories, as some media had reported," the statement read.
"We are taking all international legal action and ask the international community and the UN to play their role in this regard," according to the PM statement.
"Additionally, any presence of foreign forces has to be under the approval of the Iraqi government and this presence ends if the Iraqi government requests so."
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper met with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi in Baghdad on Wednesday.
The UK was not told about the US troop pullback from Syria in advance, UK Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace said today.
Wallace was asked at a Defense Committee session: "Did the US consult us before this decision to withdraw from the area of Syria near the Turkish border?"
"On the specific decision, no, they didn't in advance," Wallace replied.
He later said: "We do talk but on that specific right there and then we weren't given a sort of prior warning, it was a decision made by the United States as was the other decision by the Turkish government."
The Syrian government will set up 15 border patrol posts along its border with Turkey, according to a map posted by the Russian Defense Ministry on today.
The posts — marked green on the map above — are created within the framework of the memorandum of understanding signed yesterday by the presidents of Russia and Turkey following talks in Sochi.
The map shows that Syrian border posts will be created outside of the zone of the Turkish Operation Peace Spring. Five posts are to be set up west of the zone of the offensive near the town of Kobani. Another ten posts will be located west of the operation zone up to the border with Iraq, including the area surrounding the city of Qamishli.
The map also outlines a 10-kilometer zone of joint Russian-Turkish patrols along the border and a 30-kilometer zone of withdrawal for Syrian Kurdish formations.